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Bloodthirsty Pirates? Violence and Terror on the South China Sea in Early Modern Times 1

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Abstract All pirates had reputations for violence and terror, but in Asia people also depicted them as bloodthirsty demons who practiced cannibalism and human sacrifices. But how deserved were those reputations? Here I examine the images, nature, and meanings of pirate violence in the South China Sea between the fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Pirates consciously used violence and brutality to obtain money and goods, to seek vengeance against their enemies, and to instill fear in anyone who might resist them. In this article I focus on what I call the cultural construction of violence with Chinese characteristics.

Affiliations: 1: University of Macau


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